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The Road to a Paper-Light Office

3 Mar, 2015 By: Don Dixon, Xerox

Most businesses are looking for new ways to optimize how they get work done, ultimately finding new workflows to make business processes more efficient and productive. And, while paper consumption may not be top-of-mind when embarking on this effort, it’s a great place to start.

Take a look at your workspace. Do you have stacks of papers everywhere or files busting at the seams? If you do, you’re not alone. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to recycle.org. Now, imagine trying to find business-critical information that is on that one sheet of paper somewhere in that massive pile. Information is the life source of business and finding ways to cut down on wasted time filing and searching for documents will ultimately increase collaboration and workplace productivity.

The idea of a paperless office has existed for nearly 40 years. One would think that we would be one step closer to that realty, yet businesses today are still surrounded by paper. And lots of it. Some of this paper houses key customer data and business intel. But much can be considered “bad paper” – old, obsolete information that ends up filed, stored and essentially useless.

So, why hasn’t the drive for a paperless office taken off? One of the main reasons is that barriers exist between digital and print. There are instances in which paper is genuinely difficult to replicate digitally, or it may be the preferred method from a client or vendor. 

Many agree that a paper-free office is great in theory; however, it can be challenging to achieve. Completely eliminating paper may not be realistic for most businesses, but the ability to print less, become a paper-light office and therefore boosting productivity as a result, can be within reach.

Thankfully, document management can play a critical role. The disruptive force of new technologies within this space are opening up opportunities to change behavior in today’s workplace, allowing businesses to strive for a more efficient, productive, collaborative and sustainable world of work.

Paper and Digital Divide be Gone

In today’s evolving and increasingly mobile workplace, laptops, tablets and smartphones are transforming the way we do business. How we get work done is changing just as rapidly, driven by cloud access, social media, virtual collaboration and other technologies.

According to a recent Quocirca study, 72 percent of organizations indicated that they are planning to increase their digitization efforts. New innovations have significantly changed the ways of the past. With faster, more sophisticated technology and a mobile-centric workforce, businesses can readily welcome the transformation of paper-based documents to electronic files.

Here are three ways document management technology can be your friend in this evolution:

Automate business processes: Paper-based business processes are cumbersome and expensive. When a company can cut down on paper-based documents for core business processes, savings can be dramatic. For example, Xerox’s Digital Alternatives is a simple desktop and mobile assistant technology that automates paper-based workflows that exist within any large organization. Users can easily sign, annotate, share, save and read documents from one interface, eliminating the need to print documents, convert files or toggle between different programs and digital versions — a time-saving and efficiency gain.  

Analyze document workflows: In order to change processes, businesses must understand their current work environment. Consider analyzing workplace hardware, including print and document workflow, for insight into how assets are used throughout the office. By analyzing how and why devices are used by employees within an office, companies can revamp and optimize processes to help increase efficiencies. It’s also essential for employees to look at their own work behaviors and fine-tune old habits in order to drive the necessary change from the ground up.

For instance, let’s look at printing – it’s important for employees to know how and why they’re printing in order to break the cycle. Xerox’s Print Awareness Tool monitors and analyzes print history and wasteful habits. Using gamification technology, employees can voluntarily track how their efforts support company-wide print reduction and print smarter goals.

Scan documents: Scanning allows organizations to reduce the need to save old paper documents by digitally archiving information into repositories for easier access. The information can be used to build intelligent documents that enable users to easily extract and search for data across multiple, mixed-platform business repositories including cloud, social media, mobile devices and desktops. Plus, scanning reduces physical real estate because less paper means less filing cabinets and off-site storage, which significantly reduces a company’s environmental footprint.

With change comes risks and unknowns that can be disruptive; but businesses that take on the challenge have much to gain and move one step closer to a more digital, paper-less work environment envisioned decades ago.

Printing less isn’t just about using less paper – it’s about working smarter, improving productivity, connecting with clients faster and using data to bolster business.

Author: Don Dixon, Senior VP, Global Head of Marketing & Communications, Large Enterprise Operations, Xerox.  For further company information visit http://www.itex.com

About the Author: Don Dixon

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